Well, here we go - Election Night.
For the last couple of months (even longer) I have made it pretty clear that I dislike Bush and his Cronies and all they stand for.
I hope they lose.
Kerry was never my candidate of choice and it took him a long time to get geared up. Finally, at the time of the Presidential Debates, he started to look like a viable alternative to this dangerous, vindictive false idol in the White House. It was so apparent that Bush was not used to people talking back to him. He got annoyed, upset, fidgeted, and froze like a deer in headlights.
Now the pollsters say it's a 50-50 race, with everything down to less than a dozen Swing States.
I'm glad to hear it.
But sitting back and being glad is not good enough. All over the world there are people like me who are not US citizens and who are not allowed to vote. We are not supposed to interfere in your "domestic politics" and are told to shut up and keep our distance. But why can't it work both ways? The US Government has been messing with governments and societies all over the world since the late 1940s (much earlier in Latin America) but it has never been quite so blatant and in-your-face as it has been since the Bush People came into power. After the understandable shock of 9/11 it got even more explicit :"If you are not with us", they said, "you are against us".
Well, we are not against you.
But there is no way in the world you are going to exercise "leadership" and start wars and simply expect the citizens of other free countries to throw away their hard-won sovereignty and follow you wherever you happen to go. That is not going to happen.
It's no good blaming the French. They may not be the most popular nation in Europe (awkward people, always going their own way) yet we can always ignore the French. We can set aside the Germans. If it comes to that, we can set aside America, too. We have cultural ties and friendly feelings and all that good stuff , we love American music and movies and popular culture, but there is zero interest in becoming a colonial outpost of some new American Empire. We get along fine with Americans on a one-to-one basis but dealing with your government is a different matter. Your government is an overseas foreign power, basically, with delusions of grandeur. Please stay out of our lives. We have enough trouble with our own governments!
Americans often say you saved Europe in World Wars One and Two. This is partly true. You were delayed entrants in both wars, and in each case you entered for reasons of your own national defence which had nothing to do with Europe at all. In 1917 you entered the war against the German Empire (which had been raging for 3.5 years already) because of unrestricted submarine attacks against American shipping. In 1942 you entered the war against the Nazis and the Japanese because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. That war had been going on in Europe since 1939 and in China since 1937. Thanks for your help, but you came in for your own reasons. You helped to win both wars, no question, but why did it take you so long to join the Good Guys?
America is a powerful country. It has the power to do a great deal of good in the world. It has an equal and opposite power to do a great deal of harm. These days it is difficult to decide what you are doing.
Personally, I believe the Bush Regime has been a disaster with regard to America's relations with the rest of the world. I want to see an end to this provocative and ignorant administration, along with about 70% of the rest of the world's population (check out the overseas polls).
But I can't vote in the election. Also, talk is cheap.
Therefore I have put my money where my mouth is: if I can't vote, I can still lay a bet. I am told it is ILLEGAL to vote on the outcome of a US election. Not where I live.
I have put up $500 (which I can hardly afford) just to underline how strongly I feel about this election, and to emphasize my personal as well as the national and international need to put the skids under Bush and his Cohorts. I stand to win $1150 if Kerry wins. I sure enough lose my $500 if he doesn't.
It's not the money. In a sense it IS the money, because why would you do an outrageous thing like that when you can't afford it? My wife would go bananas if she knew. I haven't told her yet. Win or lose she'll give me a hard time (less of a hard time if we win) but there are times when you have to nail your colors to the mast.
Like so many others, I feel tied into this election. If I can't vote, I will take a bet. I am not betting on Kerry, you understand, so much as I am betting -- and voting -- against Bush. I want to win. Of course I want to win. But even if I lose, I don't really care -- it's just something that needs to be done -- an Act of Faith in the Good Side of America.
I'm kind of hoping my wife will see it that way too.